I am playing Football Manager 2012. I have never played Football Manager before. I only know a bit about football. I’m a bit scared. This post is in character as Ian Football, newly-crowned manager of Worcester City Football Club, a team deemed to have suffered a “32 year barren spell.” The first in this series is here. The next post, by the way, will be out of character, detailing my own thoughts on football management games.
I have made three key mistakes so far.
1) Promising the club’s board that City can finish the season in the top half of the division, in return for an increased budget. At this point, I have no idea if City can even stay in this division. I don’t even know if there’s a division below it. The team might simply self-destruct at the end of the season for all I know.
2) Listening to the advice of my assistant manager, The Garden.
3) Not listening to the advice of my assistant manager, The Garden.
As it stands, I’m a long way off knowing if any of these things will come back to bite me on the arse later or not. I’m concerned it’s like when a gun is mentioned in the early scenes of a Hitchcock movie, then it disappears for an hour, but you know full well it’s going to play a critical, murder-based role much later on. Something, almost certainly, will go wrong. As it stands, though, things are going… okay. We’re still in pre-season friendlies against opponents of even more pathetic stature than my own team but, well, we’ve won.
I’ll get to that in a minute though. First of all, I should reveal that my first two prospective hirings, Darren and Gavin, ultimately didn’t join the club. Despite The Garden recommending them to me as good prospects, a spot of scouting suggested they’d barely keep pace with their existing City counterparts, let alone be able to replace them. Hence, my trust in The Garden has been shaken. He sounds so sure about everything he says, a man entirely free from doubt. That makes me want to heed his every word, but… I don’t know him from Adam. He seems nice. He has a cool nickname. But he’s assistant manager at Worcester City. That really doesn’t count for much.
So, after a torturously long and confusing search, I handpicked two alternative gentlemen to join City. Defensive midfielder Dionatan Teixera should be hired ‘at any cost’, my scout believed, although when you’re Worcester City, the outermost limit of ‘any cost’ turns out to be ‘around £300 per week.’ Still, I was dead set on snagging Dionatan. Mostly because he’s Brazilian. Given I’m a professional football manager, you’d be suprised by quite how little I know about football. But I do know that Brazil are supposed to be pretty God-damned incredible at the beautiful game. So I made an offer of £250 per week, a £25 appearance fee and a £1.3k team of the year bonus promise to Dionatan, currently in the Brazilian Under 20s squad, and, miracle of miracles, he accepted. This is it! Worcester City are on the way!
And then he didn’t make it past immigration.
I have appealed the decision. And now I wait. I don’t have high hopes. The Garden, I note, has failed to offer any useful advice on this matter. And I can’t work out how to bribe passport officials.
Next, I turned my attention to a new goal keeper, Wealdstone’s Jonathan North. Welsh, so shouldn’t have any passport issues, absurdly cheap at £60 a week, and, I’m told, twice the player of my current keepers – a rookie and a tired-out grump respectively. He accepted. This is it! Worcester City are on the way!
Turned out there was a reason he was available for immediate and cheap transfer. The bugger had a serious head injury that meant he was out of action for several weeks. Just ‘a bruised head’, apparently. What a wimp. What’s the matter, wearing your backwards baseball cap while you’re out and about at the Yate’s Wine Lodge in Newport smarts a little?
So, with the first friendly approaching fast, I was stuck with the roster I’d begun with. I felt hopeless. What kind of a manager was I? If I couldn’t even hire a man who wasn’t arrested at immigration or who had the full use of his head, how could I possibly hope to lead Worcester to victory?
Approached to give my first press conference, I was disconsolate, answering with the worst kind of PR-diluted nothings. No promises, no threats, no passion, no glory, just bland ‘yes our team will play some football and I may or may not make some decision’ evasiveness. The world was not to know my name this day.
Pettily, I fired – uh, ‘released on a free’ – City’s least well-regarded player. He had potential, apparently, but no other team was interested in having him as a transfer, free or otherwise, and I was desperate to feel like I’d achieved something. The only result was that overall team morale fell slightly. Well done, Ian. You’re making a right old mess of this, aren’t you?
The day of the first friendly arrived. A home match vs Newton Aycliffe. Never heard of ‘em. They’ll probably have us, of course. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.
But I said the right things to most of my team in the pre-match briefing: assertive, passionate, show me why you belong on this team, I believe in you, yadayadayada. Though I decided to be a bit sniffy with the guys in defence, convinced that my goalie was useless so we’d need everything we could get in front of our own net. The Garden advised me to be encouraging; I ignored him this time. Grimly, I noticed that my apparent star player’s morale was listed as ‘abysmal.’ And that another club was sniffing around him. Here we go, eh? Maybe I should start listening to The Garden again.
Still, all or nothing. Let’s go 4-4-2 formation, emphasis on attacking, shooting on sight, and whatever else sounded excitably aggressive. Might as well go out in a blaze of glory, eh?
I will take that. Yessir, I will take that. I don’t care that Newton Aycliffe are nobodies, it was my first match and it was a win. Shame about that one we let in though. If only I hadn’t wasted my money hiring a keeper with a bruised head.
Premiership here we come!
(I really am that naive.)
(Can I ask for a payrise yet?)
(Yes, I know it’s just a friendly. But it means something to me. Something more than ‘my players are now slightly fitter.)
(erewego, erewego, erewego!)